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The Week Ahead in Congress

December 6, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Today begins the 111th Congress’ biggest week yet. Two of President Obama’s most significant domestic priorities — health care reform and overhauling regulations in the financial sector — will see action on the floors of the House and the Senate.

After working through the weekend, the Senate today enters its second full week of debating their health care bill (H.R. 3590). So far, the Democrats have lost only one of the more than a dozen votes the Senate has taken on amending the bill. But this week, two of the most contentious issues surrounding the health care bill — the public option and abortion funding — are expected to be the subjects of amendments that will come up for votes. Both will be subject to the 60 vote hurdle and will shape portions of the bill that key swing vote senators are hanging their final votes of approval on.

A group of 10 or so Senate Democrats is still finalizing the details of a public option “compromise” that they will offer as an amendment with hopes of reconciling disagreements among the caucus and solidifying support behind the overall bill. At this point, it’s looking like it will be a network of national of non-profits, modeled on the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, which provides health care to members of Congress, and administered by the Office of Personnel and Management. Essentially, it would be an Exchange of non-profits within the new Health Care Exchanges in place of a public option. Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR], one of the key swing votes and a public option skeptic, says she likes where the proposal is headed. "It bodes well for being able to do what we want to do, which is to create greater choice and options in the marketplace but also have a downward pressure on premiums on cost,” Lincoln said about the proposal.

Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] is expected to introduce his abortion amendment today and it get a votes as soon as this evening. Like the Stupak amendment in the House it is modeled after, Nelson’s amendment will bar anyone buying insurance through the new Exchanges from purchasing a plan that covers elective abortions, even if they are buying the insurance plan entirely with their own money. It is expected to be rejected by the Senate, which Nelson says will cause him to vote “no” on passage of the overall bill.

Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] may file for “cloture” on the bill — a motion to defeat a Republican filibuster that requires 60 votes — later this week in hopes of bringing it to a final vote before the Senate breaks for Christmas.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives this week is expected to vote on comprehensive legislation (H.R. 4137) to over regulations in the financial sector. The bill would establish a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to regulate products like home mortgages, car loans and credit cards. It would also give the Treasury Department new authority to place non-bank financial firms, like insurance companies (i.e. A.I.G.) into receivership and require them to downsize if they are considered too big or interconnected to fail. All financial firms with more than $50 billion in assets would be required to pay into a fund to cover the costs of the Treasury’s new responsibilities for managing systemic risk in the financial sector. It would also give the Government Accountability Office power to audit the Federal Reserve full y for the first time in the central bank’s history.

We’ll be covering the financial regulatory bill and the health care bill closely this week, so subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog for updates. Below are the full legislative schedules this week for both the Senate and the House.

This week in the House of Representatives:


On Monday, the House will meet at 10:30 a.m. for Morning Hour debate and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. No votes are expected in the House on Monday.

Suspensions (13 Bills)

  1. H.Con.Res. 199 – Recognizing the 10th Anniversary of the activation of Echo Company of the 100th Battalion of the 442d Infantry, and the sacrifice of the soldiers and families in support of the United States (Rep. Sablan – Armed Services)
  2. H.Con.Res. 206 – Commending the soldiers and civilian personnel stationed at Fort Gordon and their families for their service and dedication to the United States and recognizing the contributions of Fort Gordon to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and its role as a pivotal communications training installation (Rep. Broun – Armed Services)
  3. H.Res. 940 – Recognizing and honoring the National Guard on the occasion of its 373rd anniversary (Rep. Latta – Armed Services)
  4. H.Res. 845 – Recognizing the United States Air Force and Dyess Air Force Base for their success in achieving energy savings and developing energy-saving innovations during Energy Awareness Month (Rep. Neugebauer – Armed Services)
  5. H.R. 1672 – Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Reauthorization Act of 2009 (Rep. Larsen – Natural Resources)
  6. H.R. 2062 – Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act of 2009 (Rep. DeFazio – Natural Resources)
  7. H.R. 3940 – To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to extend grants and other assistance to facilitate a political status public education program for the people of Guam (Rep. Bordallo – Natural Resources)
  8. H.R. 3603 – To rename the Ocmulgee National Monument (Rep. Marshall – Natural Resources)
  9. H.R. 86 – To eliminate an unused lighthouse reservation, provide management consistency by bringing the rocks and small islands along the coast of Orange County, California, and meet the original Congressional intent of preserving Orange County’s rocks and small islands (Rep. Campbell – Natural Resources)
  10. H.R. 118 – To authorize the addition of 100 acres to Morristown National Historical Park (Rep. Frelinghuysen – Natural Resources)
  11. H.R. 3388 – Petersburg National Battlefield Boundary Modification Act (Rep. Forbes – Natural Resources)
  12. H.R. 3804 – National Park Service Authorities and Corrections Act of 2009 (Rep. Tonko – Natural Resources)
  13. H.R. 1454 – Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Act of 2009 (Rep. Brown (SC) – Natural Resources)


On Tuesday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for Morning Hour debate and 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. Members are advised votes could occur as early as 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.

Suspensions (16 Bills)

  1. H.R. 2278 – To direct the President to transmit to Congress a report on anti-American incitement to violence in the Middle East (Rep. Bilirakis – Foreign Affairs)
  2. H.R. 2134 – Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act of 2009 (Rep. Engel – Foreign Affairs)
  3. H.Res. 915 – Encouraging the Republic of Hungary to respect the rule of law, treat foreign investors fairly, and promote a free and independent press (Rep. Donnelly – Foreign Affairs)
  4. H.Con.Res. 213 – Expressing the sense of Congress for and solidarity with the people of El Salvador as they persevere through the aftermath of torrential rains which caused devastating flooding and deadly mudslides (Rep. Mack – Foreign Affairs)
  5. H.R. 3951 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2000 Louisiana Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana, as the “Roy Rondeno, Sr. Post Office Building” (Rep. Cao – Oversight and Government Reform)
  6. H.R. 4017 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 43 Maple Avenue in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, as the “Ann Marie Blute Post Office” (Rep. McGovern – Oversight and Government Reform)
  7. H.R. 2711FBI Families of Fallen Heroes Act (Rep. Rogers (MI) – Oversight and Government Reform)
  8. H.Res. 907 – Recognizing the Grand Concourse on its 100th anniversary as the preeminent thoroughfare in the borough of the Bronx and an important nexus of commerce and culture for the City of New York (Rep. Serrano – Transportation and Infrastructure)
  9. H.R. 4165 – To extend through December 31, 2010, the authority of the Secretary of the Army to accept and expend funds contributed by non-Federal public entities to expedite the processing of permits (Rep. Larsen – Transportation and Infrastructure)
  10. H.R. 1854 – To amend the Water Resources Development Act of 1992 to modify an environmental infrastructure project for Big Bear Lake, California (Rep. Lewis (CA) – Transportation and Infrastructure)
  11. H.Res. 35 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should provide increased Federal funding for continued type 1 diabetes research (Rep. Gene Green – Energy and Commerce)
  12. H.Res. 55 – Expressing support for the designation of a National Prader-Willi Syndrome Awareness Month to raise awareness of and promote research into this challenging disorder (Rep. Royce – Energy and Commerce)
  13. H.R. 1319 – Informed P2P User Act (Rep. Bono Mack – Energy and Commerce)
  14. H.R. 2221 – Data Accountability and Trust Act (Rep. Rush – Energy and Commerce)
  15. H.R. __ - To extend the Andean Trade Preference Act and the Generalized System of Preferences (Rep. Rangel – Ways and Means)
  16. H.R. __ – Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act (Rep. Rangel – Ways and Means)

H.R. __ - Tax Extenders of 2009 (Rep. Rangel – Ways and Means) (Subject to a Rule)

H.R. 4173 – Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (Rep. Frank – Financial Services) (Subject to a Rule)

* Conference Reports may be brought up at any time.

* Motions to go to Conference should they become available.      

* Possible Motions to Instruct Conferees.

And on the Senate calendar so far for the week:

Convenes: 10:00am

Resume consideration of H.R.3590, Health Care Reform.

Following Leader remarks, the first 2 hours will be equally divided and with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each. The Republicans will control the first 30 minutes and the Majority will control the next 30 minutes. The remaining time will be equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees.
Roll call votes are expected in relation to amendments to the Health Care Reform bill after 3:15pm.

As always, Congress Matters has done the incredibly valuable work of assembling a full list of committee hearing that will take place this week in both the Senate and the House.

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